WHEN Kowloon House down the block from my house took down its sign, I felt a profound sense of regret. It was a neighborhood fixture where even nonresidents would stop by to have their mami and siopao by the take-out counter, or at one of the two tiny wrought iron tables under the tree that shaded them. It had also been the unlikely venue for the impromptu wine tasting sessions with my good friend Jolo when the hankering for siomai trumped whatever wine was up for tasting. But the wine somehow always came through and I’d walk away from those sessions thinking about what else will work with dim sum—and Chinese food.
Here are more suggestions from avowed foodies who love their wine as well:
Jay Labrador, President, International Wine and Food Society, Philippines Branch. “Lots of flavors in Chinese food [that it is] so hard to say one wine fits all. Many suggest Gewürztraminer but I find it too heavy for most Chinese dishes. I would go with a German Riesling Kabinett. Very versatile wine that’s got a good balance between acidity and fruit, and goes well with a lot of Chinese food.”
Chef Gene Gonzalez. “I’ll have beer, unfiltered sake or Korean Makgeolli. The grainy flavor of the beer will stand up to the myriad of dim sum flavors…the yeasty fermented characters of beer and unfiltered sake or Makgeolli have high aminos that will heighten flavors.”
Arnie del Rosario, member, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. “Riesling or sweetish sparkling usually. New World Pinot Noir if we are having Peking duck.”
Kathy Yao-Santos, wine importer. “Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc, Beringer Luminus Chardonnay, Dierberg Pinot Noir, Joseph Phelps Insignia….”
Clement Lim, Singapore-based sake sommelier. Clement thinks wine, sake and beer with dim sum and Chinese dishes: wine—Pouilly-Fumé, Chablis, aged Red Burgundy; sake—Niigata style-Kimoto Junmai Ginjo; beer—lighter style lager like Kirin or Sapporo.
Jeannie Jans, Dallas-based wine collector, member, Commanderie de Bordeaux, La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. “I love dim sum. Champagne is my go-to, even with sushi. A fruity red like a light Pinot Noir, or a dry German or Austrian Riesling. A rosé should work, too.”
Jolo Delgado, wine importer. “I’ll have an Albariño all throughout a Chinese meal…or an oaked Verdejo.”
With dim sum, bubbly in all its expressions had never failed me. I’ve had the Zonin Prosecco Cuvée Black (a glera-pinot noir blend) with roast goose, and the Taittinger Nocturne Sec with shrimp dumplings and steamed custard buns. I remember having the Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc (a viognier-chardonnay-chenin blanc blend) with the exquisite Cantonese menu at the Ying Jee Club. There was the Hakutsuru junmai nigori that I had with spicy, baked pork buns.
A new year merits new beginnings and renewals. And for me, that includes opening up to more food and wine pairing possibilities. Like cheese with the many styles of sake. It’s the Year of the Rat after all (and rats like cheese). Kung Hei Fat Choi!